Rugby Championship: Australia 12-12 New Zealand

Michael Hooper in action
Australia, led by Michael Hooper, overhauled a six-point half-time deficit to deny New Zealand a record 18th straight win
Australia (3) 12
Penalties: Beale (4)
New Zealand (9) 12
Penalties: Cruden (4)

Australia denied New Zealand a record 18th straight Test win as they fought back to earn a 12-12 draw in the opening game of the Rugby Championship.external-link

Kurtley Beale and Aaron Cruden scored four penalties apiece as wet conditions produced a try-less contest in Sydney.

New Zealand started strongly but only led 9-3 at the break after Australia took advantage of some ill-discipline.

The Wallabies dominated the second period but squandered some chances to win the home match late on.

Australia had been on the receiving end of three heavy defeats in their last three meetings with New Zealand, but slippery conditions made a repeat of those high-scoring matches unlikely.

Australia v New Zealand
Saturday's Test was the 150th time that Australia and New Zealand faced each other
Australia have 41 wins compared to New Zealand's 102. This was the seventh draw
New Zealand were on a winning streak of 17 matches that started with a victory over France in June 2013
The first Test match between the two teams was in Sydney, Australia, in 1903
New Zealand won 22-3 that day. Australia had to wait until their seventh encounter for their first victory, winning 11-0 in 1910

Cruden and Beale traded penalties in the early exchanges, before the New Zealand fly-half twice punished moments of ill-discipline from the Wallabies.

But a yellow card for New Zealand prop Wyatt Crockett allowed Beale, a controversial selection ahead of Bernard Foley at fly-half, to draw Australia level after half-time.

The kickers landed another penalty apiece before New Zealand lost replacement Beauden Barrett to another yellow card, but, despite exerting huge pressure, Australia were unable to find another score.

The draw means Steve Hansen's side failed to surpass the record of 17 consecutive wins set by the All Blacks of 1965-69 and the South Africa team of 1997-98.

It is also the first match that New Zealand have failed to win in the Rugby Championship since the tournament was rebranded from the Tri-Nations in 2012.

Australia and New Zealand meet again in Auckland next week. Results from matches between the sides count towards the Bledisloe Cup, a trophy which New Zealand have held since 2002.

Australia captain Michael Hooper: "We're improving every time. The draw feels like a loss with the fact we got so close and had a chance to win at the end. We had good moments in tough conditions but first phase we let ourselves down a bit."

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw: "It's a bit of a funny feeling. Conditions played a big part, and 12-12 is probably a fair reflection. We went pretty well in the first 30 minutes but we struggled to maintain that. The wallabies fought back well and we struggled in the second half to get any momentum at the right end of the field."

South Africa 13-6 Argentina

Handre Pollard
Fly-half Handre Pollard kicked a penalty and a conversion for South Africa against Argentina.

South Africa's Ruan Pienaar ran in the only try of the game as the Springboks laboured to a 13-6 win over Argentina on a water-soaked pitch at Loftus Versfeld.

Scrum-half Pienaar scored in the second-minute, before a downpour in Pretoria resulted in a game full of handling errors.

The home team stayed in front throughout the match as fly-half Handre Pollard landed a conversion and a penalty and his replacement Morne Steyn added a second-half penalty.

Puma's fly-half Nicolas Sanchez slotted over two penalties for the visitors.